Collinsworth was a man of wisdom. He was a man of planning, cunning, and calculation. He was not, despite the impression given by recent events, a man of action. The founding and funding of DOMO had been his primary focus in the second half of his tenure with the Abolitionists. There had come a point in his philosophizing career that he'd realized that the deliberations meant nothing to him without application. And not just out there in the world, but within him, inside his mind. He needed to see what the point of all their years in Panel were really for. So Deliberation #1561 on the Morality of Extinction had been the jumping off point for him. He had taken its rejection as a call to arms, of sorts. It was horribly un-Abolitionist of him and of poor philosophical inquiry to assume that if extinction was not NOT a question of morality, then that it instantly WAS. That proof had not been made, and yet he assumed it. And if extinction was bad, then its opposite – preservation – was good.
So in earnest Collinsworth had gathered a group of scientists under the guise of a Moderator coalition at Hexler and instead funneled them to DOMO where he instructed them to begin with the animals. Very few people knew about the undertaking. Only the Abolitionists at the time were even aware of his thinking – he had been so eager to discuss the possible benefits that he'd made it a sidebar at Panel. When his fellow philosophers began to question the possible consequences, he immediately ceased to bring it up. What did they know? To them, everything was just a thought experiment. He, on the other hand – he was already beginning to see the results. The humble barn owl – it would have been extinct if not for GAP's efforts. Then the peregrine falcon, the Siberian tiger, elephants, rhinos, blue frogs and golden hens. He was building an Ark, surely the Pures of all people could understand that. They were preservation by definition.
He thought often about the Pures because, for one thing, Pureside was where most of the animals had gone. In a sense, Klammath was the only nature preserve left in the world. So, to do his work in preserving animals for all of humanity, not just Klammathians, he'd had to create a break in the Divide, finagle a loophole in the Perot Treaty, so he could have continual access to Pureside without Pures ever realizing it.
But now there were humans involved. Collinsworth stood from his leather chair. In the last five years, everything had changed. Outsiders had run out of race, and Collinsworth's addiction to preservation had spread. At first his tests had been limited to the children who worked at Calendula. 'Accidents' at the factory were simply his way of siphoning pure genetic material into his labs. As the science became more refined, they could often return the children back to work none the wiser. But the children who worked at Calendula were all typically of the same breed – 13-8s, 15-5's – it was difficult to catch a 2-2, for instance. His hand balled into a fist. Dirth O'Mallyou was a 2-2.
It had been the one bright spot of the factory collapse, Paltron's infernal plan to fame. As far as Collinsworth knew, Dirth was one of the last – certainly one of the last hundred. He was sure Dirth himself did not know this – the Pures were so appallingly in denial about their demise – they had long allowed political correctness to hold them back, to keep them from taking the drastic and necessary actions to equalize. When Dirth had wandered in, they had pounced. They'd taken a sample. They'd even started running test burns on him when he had escaped. Andow he was wandering around the EIU, out of Collinsworth's purview.
DOMO was barely contained as it was – any new news would surely spur a series of inquiries and investigations. All Collinsworth could hope was that the burning Dirth received had been sufficient, and that he would not be able to recall his path out to the EIU. The safest bet would be to ensure that he was burned again, but he was under such intense scrutiny at the moment, Collinsworth wasn't sure he could get to him, even with his connections. As long as Dirth was burned, then nobody would ever be able to connect the two events between the factory collapse and the Pure escaping. That was his #1 priority.
His second priority was… Paltron. She had been compromised.
He realized what he needed to do, and the irony of it struck him. He would need to call Abi Glenn.
Judy sat arched over Solomon in their living room. The boy, Williams, stood guard in the corner.
"Do you know what it feels like to be in love?" she asked, over her shoulder.
Williams shuffled uncomfortably in his stance. "I do, ma'am."
"What is he or she like?"
Williams started. He forgot that being gay was so readily accepted on the Outside.
"She's blonde, ma'am. Green eyes. Name's Sandy."
"Sandy…" Judy said tenderly. "Green eyes? That's incredible…"
At first, Williams wasn't sure what she meant. But when Judy turned to look at him, with tears shining in her emerald eyes, he thought he might understand. There was no one else like her she'd probably ever seen.
"She's… brave. Uh. And nice. Real nice." Williams adjusted his stance again. "To be honest, ma'am, I don't really know her that well. Or, I didn't at least."
"No…There was this big war in Klammath –" Judy fought the urge to clap her hands over her ears. Even the word war felt like an invasion of her senses, including her sense of justice. Williams went on. "We encountered them in the field – her and a bunch of her friends – and basically sheltered them," His mind flashed to Kaemi, "protected them after they had to evacuate from their caves."
"Caves?" Were they really so primitive?
"Yeah. They're called the Diggers, have you heard of them?" His hand went to rub the top of his head. "I guess you probably haven't. They're like this underground news group who's trying to get the truth out to the people. It's dangerous – they get killed all the time."
"Ya, the real truth, you know? Not just what the Herald writes. Do you know the Herald?
"I don't know anything."
"The Herald's like our go-to news… like your version of Box Office, or whatever." He looked at her again. "You ever heard of Box Office?"
She pointed helplessly towards the newspaper. "Just today?"
Williams looked at her in amazement. "Damn. They keep you in a box or something?"
Judy laughed out loud. "Something like that."
"Well the Herald is our only newspaper, basically, and it's just filled with lies, like total bullshit. Sorry, 'garbage.'"
"You don't have to worry about swearing around me. I swear too."
"Oh. Wasn't sure."
"Fair guess." Judy smiled. "Look I may not know much about what's going on outside in the world, but I do know about love." She held Solomon's hand close to her heart. "And love is funny, you know. You can know somebody your entire life, or maybe just for a few hours, but it simply is. No explaining who or why."
Solomon moaned softly and Judy leaned closer to hear him breathe. "Yes dear… wake."
"Can I ask you something, ma'am?"
"Yes, sure, of course."
"Are you really an Outsider? Both of you?"
Judy turned to look at him. "Well, of course we are. How do you mean?"
"Well…" Williams paused. "I mean, because you look different. From everybody else."
"How do you mean?"
"I mean, come on," he shifted uncomfortably and waited for her to save him, but she didn't, "Everyone else over here looks like the same. All Outsiders look the same. Everyone knows that. Like Lieutenant Davis and Roscoe Black – same color hair, same eyes, same skin." He looked at her again. "But not you guys."
Judy sat back on her heels. After several long minutes, she finally said quietly, "We've been in isolation for so long, I… I suppose…"
"Where they been keeping you all this time?"